bloating is swell, or enlarged, stomach. This uncomfortable feeling of fullness or tightness can make your stomach appear larger.
Bloating can be caused by certain foods or eating habits, but is also a common menstrual symptom. There are various ways to relieve bloating, depending on its specific cause.
This article discusses the causes and symptoms of bloating. It also explains how to prevent and reduce bloating, and when it’s best to see a doctor.
Symptoms of bloating include:
- your stomach may stick out
- feeling full and/or uncomfortable
- The skin around the stomach may feel stretched and tight
Depending on the cause, bloating may be accompanied by other symptoms, such as cramping.
What causes bloating?
Bloating is often associated with certain foods and drinks, as well as eating habits that cause gas to build up in the digestive system. But there are other potential reasons.
how do you eat
Eating too much: Stomach tissue is elastic. However, if you put more stuff in your stomach at once, it can swell up.
Eating too fast: Eating too fast can cause you to swallow a lot of air, which can lead to bloating.
Bloating continues until the food in the full stomach is digested or the accumulated gas is released. This can take hours or days.
what do you consume
Chewing gum and drinking carbonated beverages: These have the same effect as eating too fast.
High-fiber foods: Fiber-rich foods can cause bloating, especially if you’re not used to eating them.
Alcohol: Wine, beer, and spirits may irritate the stomach lining and cause temporary bloating.
Constipation: Stool retention in the bowel can cause gas and distention in the lower stomach.
Food sensitivities and intolerances: Food sensitivities occur when a person eats something that triggers an immune response and produces symptoms but is not life-threatening. If you have food intolerances, your body will not be able to process certain products. E.g:
- Some people who are sensitive or intolerant to gluten (a protein found in wheat and other grains) may experience gas and bloating after eating foods that contain it.
- People who are lactose intolerant do not have lactase, the enzyme needed to digest the sugars in dairy products. As a result, they may experience stomach pain and bloating after consuming foods such as milk or cheese.
Food allergy: This happens when someone has an allergic reaction to a certain food. The most common culprits are eggs, milk, dairy products, peanuts and tree nuts. Bloating and other symptoms ranging from mild to life-threatening may occur.
Celiac disease: This autoimmune disease is triggered by the protein gluten. After eating gluten-containing foods, the immune system attacks the small intestine. This can lead to diarrhea, bloating, stomach pain, headaches and fatigue.
Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS): This gastrointestinal disorder can cause bloating, stomach cramps, and diarrhea. Symptoms tend to occur after an individual consumes a trigger food or drink.
Bloating can be caused by hormonal fluctuations that occur during menstruation.
Bloating can be caused by food allergies, sensitivities and intolerances, as well as hormonal fluctuations and gastrointestinal disorders. What and how you eat are also factors.
Difference Between Food Sensitivity and Food Intolerance
Exercise and massage, like walking around the block or self-massaging your abdomen, can help move gas in your digestive system and relieve bloating.
There are also over-the-counter (OTC) medications and supplements that can help prevent bloating or relieve discomfort.
- Antacids contain Simethiconewhich sticks to the air bubbles in the stomach, making it easier for the gas to release.
- Bismuth subsalicylate (bismuth subsalicylate) May help reduce bloating caused by upset stomach.
- Beano contains alpha-galactosidease, an enzyme that breaks down complex carbohydrates into more digestible sugars. This helps prevent gas.
- Lactaid contains the enzyme lactase, which can help prevent gas in people with lactose intolerance.
- Probiotics are “good” bacteria that help maintain digestive health. In addition to over-the-counter supplements, you can get probiotics from foods like yogurt and kefir.
When to see a healthcare provider
Bloating is rarely a sign of a serious medical problem.
Seek medical attention if you notice that you are bloated after eating certain foods; you may have food sensitivities or intolerances.
It helps to keep and bring in a food diary where you record what you eat and when your bloating occurs so patterns can be detected. Be sure to watch out for any other symptoms.
Chronic bloating and not responding to changes in dietary habits or over-the-counter medication can sometimes be associated with certain diseases and conditions that require a formal diagnosis and treatment plan.
In addition to those already mentioned, such as IBS and celiac disease, this also includes kidney failure or heart failure – both of which cause fluid in the abdomen.
Although you may be able to ignore or learn to live with chronic bloating, it’s still worth telling your healthcare provider about it.
If you still have bloating after changing your eating habits, talk to your doctor. You may have a medical condition that requires regular treatment.
How to Prevent Bloating
In addition to making obvious changes to address common causes of bloating—for example, eating more slowly and skipping carbonated beverages—consider discussing your diet and eating habits with your doctor or registered dietitian.
If you can identify foods or eating behaviors that may be causing bloating, you’ll better understand which specific steps will help prevent future bloating. Some may already be obvious to you, but there may be factors at play that you haven’t considered.
Bloating — when your belly is more prominent than usual — is often accompanied by feelings of fullness and discomfort. However, this is rarely a cause for concern.
It can be caused by eating habits, such as eating too fast or too much. Certain foods and beverages, such as alcohol and high-fiber picks, may also be to blame. Bloating may also simply be due to constipation or hormonal changes related to your period.
But bloating can also have medical causes that need to be diagnosed and treated, including irritable bowel syndrome, food sensitivities, food intolerances, food allergies, and even heart or liver failure.
There are many over-the-counter medications that may help relieve bloating. However, if you continue to have frequent bloating, it is best to contact your doctor.
Frequently Asked Questions
How long does bloating last after a meal?
Bloating usually lasts until the stomach empties. This process depends on several factors and can take about two hours (sometimes longer).
How can I avoid bloating?
To prevent bloating, try to avoid foods that make you bloated, as well as sparkling beverages. Eating slowly may also help.
How long should I eat?
Food stays in your stomach for anywhere from 40 to 120 minutes, depending on what you eat and other factors. Eating slowly and listening to your body’s hunger signals can help reduce the chance of bloating.
Why should you avoid drinking from a straw?
Drinking from a straw increases the likelihood of swallowing air, which can lead to gas and bloating. The same goes for carbonated beverages, such as soda, which contain a lot of bubbles.